Shropshire Star

'I will really miss her!' Shropshire man tells of life-long friendship with Olivia Newton-John

A Shropshire man now living in Australia has talked of his deep sadness over the death of singer and environmentalist, Olivia Newton-John.

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Olivia Newton John and Jon Dee

Jon Dee, whose mother Pauline is a former Mayor of Wem, emigrated from the county, becoming a social entrepreneur, media producer, writer and TV host.

His work and the charities he founded Planet Art and Do Something, saw him meet Olivia Newton-John, a meeting which grew into a lifelong friendship.

"Olivia and I were friends for over 30 years. What brought us together was our joint campaigning to help wildlife and the environment," he said.

"Together we founded "One Tree Per Child" in 2013. It is now planting trees in 10 countries. We also started "National Tree Day' together and fronted it for the planting of its first 10 million trees."

The ideas were born while they were having a cup of tea at her home in 1993.

"We were talking about how we used to plant trees during Arbor Day when we were kids. We talked about how kids no longer planted trees.

"Then we both said 'There needs to be' and at the very same time we both said 'a National Tree Day'. We literally said the same name at the same time."

"Olivia had a heart of gold and her work for the environment and wildlife made a really big difference. She was a truly great Australian who made a real difference with her life.

"There are very few people in this world as good and kind as she was."

Jon said the singer wanted to see as many children as possible planting trees and said the first tree planted in the UK for One Tree per Child was in Hyde Park, with his daughter, Estelle Olivia Dee.

"Olivia was a lovely presence in my daughter’s life and she was a loving mentor for her."

"Her passion for trees and wildlife led to the planting of millions of trees here in Australia and overseas. She also saved millions of trees through her work against the logging of old growth forests.

"She presented a controversial Tree Day TV ad in the middle of destroyed old growth forest in Tasmania. It played a big role in protecting other old growth trees in that area."

"In the early 2000’s we did an interview together with ‘A Current Affair’ that blew the lid on the immense destruction of beautiful old growth forest in Tasmanian’s Styx Valley."

Before her death Jon wrote a letter to Olivia reminding her of the many things that she’d done to protect the planet.

"Her response was her last written message to me - 'I am so very proud of what we have achieved' - it was short and sweet but it meant the world to me."

Jon said many people in Australia and across the world were understandably very sad about Olivia’s passing.

"If you are one of those people, please remember Olivia by planting a tree with a child."

"Olivia was a wonderful and kind person. She lived her life true to her values and she did lots of good things for people and the planet.

"She represented the very best that an Australian can be. Like all of us today, I will really miss her."